How long have you been a member of NOWW?
I have been a member of NOWW for about one year.
What do you normally write?
I primarily write literary fiction. I try not to limit myself to any specific genre.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author?
I don’t think I could choose just one author as my favourite. I do have several that I always return to, including Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaajte, Cormac McCarthy, Jose Saramago, William Faulkner, Pierre Berton, Miram Toews to name a few. Though I can probably name my favourite book as Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Let’s get to know you a bit better. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing: .
I have been interested in stories and writing for as long as I can remember. However, growing up, I was never a big reader. It wasn’t until I entered high school that I truly discovered the many great things that books can offer. I also started to develop my own writing skills when I signed up for the newspaper course at Westgate and worked on the Eye of the Tiger student newspaper. I carried this interest with me to university where I majored in English and history and continued my work in journalism with the Argus student newspaper. This has brought me to where I am today, working as a reporter in the city of Thunder Bay. Journalism has always interested me because it is a profession that relies on a strong ability to write and tell stories. While it is very different from writing fiction, there are many skills that carry over and I feel that it has helped me grow as a writer. In the last ten years or so I really started to focus on writing fiction. It was only recently that I learned that writing, just like any other skill, takes practice, and I started to really focus on building my skills by writing every day. Last year I participated in the 3-Day Novel contest, which has led to my first published novel. For me, ideas come from everywhere. I write stories that I would want to read. I write for me. I write as though no one will ever read it.
Tell us a bit about your writing and what your process is like:
I have one published novel, Chalk. It was written in a furious three days. I feel that working on writing every day helps me grow as a writer, learn and develop new skills, and get ideas down. I never work from an outline and I prefer to let the story be shaped by what is being written. I am currently working on some new stories in the hopes of publishing a new novel within the year.
Who has inspired and impacted your writing?
There are several writers and books that have shaped me as a writer. Farley Mowat’s Lost in the Barrens was one of my first introductions to Canadian literature and showed me that stories can take you on amazing adventures. Timothy Findley’s The Wars and Pilgrim introduced me to literary fiction and how writing can tell powerful stories of human struggle. Michael Ondaajte’s In the Skin of a Lion illustrated the beauty of writing and how words can paint the most vivid of pictures. Jose Saramago showed me that literature can ask important questions about who we are and our place in the world. And Jonathan Safran Foer’s imaginative stories demonstrated the emotional impact of humour and sorrow in narratives. Finally, going beyond the written word, listening to CBC radio’s Jonathan Goldstein and Stuart McLean taught me how to tell stories, as opposed to just writing them down on the page.
Can we see you at any upcoming NOWW events?
I try to attend as many NOWW events as I can. I recently did a reading last November.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing?
My first novel, Chalk, was published in September of this year and was the winner of the 38th Annual 3-Day Novel Contest. It is available at Chapters bookstore or online at Amazon.ca.